Multi-instrumentalist known for his work as a soloist, as well as a bandleader. He worked with Randy Weston in the 1950s, also known for his freelancing work.
He started playing saxophone at the age of thirteen and started recording with J. J. Johnson on Savoy in 1946.
He released thirty-five albums as leader and sideman.
His father owned a real estate company and his cousin Marcus Belgrave was a famous trumpeter.
Payne was inspired to start playing saxophone after hearing Lester Young's performance of "Honeysuckle Rose."